The subject of speaking in tongues remains controversial today and is a subject deserving of some close attention. I have found unless you truly understand something it can b freighting.
This post is short and is not designed to argue that tongues is a valid gift but it simply attempts to describe the nature and function of speaking in tongues.
The “tongues” spoken on the Day of Pentecost were real human language.
The variety of nations represented in Acts would certainly confirm this. Every heard in their own language and dialect. Can this phenomenon still occur today? Absolutely, yes. While it’s not common today. Some feel it’s the language of the Holy Spirit.
The gift of speaking in tongues is a spiritual gift. It meaning speaking with words or in a language one doesn’t know in order to edify yourself and others.
Jesus foretold of speaking in tongues, “And these signs will follow those who believe… they will speak in new tongues.” ( Mark 16:17). The first time anyone spoke in tongues was on the day of Pentecost; when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the apostles, in Acts. The apostles spoke the gospel to the crowds in Jerusalem, and what they said could be understood by people speaking many different languages… we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God (Acts 2:11).
Later the apostle Paul also writes about the gift of speaking in tongues, in 1 Corinthians 12 and 14. However, he writes that the person speaking in tongues doesn’t speak in an understandable language: “no one understands them, however in his spirit he speaks mysteries.’ (1 Corinthians 14:2). Yet this gift that has been given to believers can be of benefit to the recipients and used to edify others in Christian gatherings.
What Does The Bible Say About Speaking In Tongues?
Much of what is written in the Bible about this gift is written by Paul to the Corinthians church. Apparently many of them had received this gift but did not understand the proper use of it in their gatherings.
Paul attempted to help them understand it’s purpose: “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all; for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of Sprits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues “ (1 Corinthians 12:4-10.
The gift of speaking In tongues was one of many given to believers to aid in the building of the body of Christ, which is the church.
Speaking In Tongues For Edification
Speaking In tongues in itself can benefit a person. Paul states: “He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself.” (1 Corinthians 14:4). Speaking in tongues can help you express what your spirit and which you cannot express with words. Paul makes it clear that the best way to edify the church is to speak prophetically, with “plain” words that build faith and understanding for all who hear the message (1 Corinthians 14: 18-19).
However,speaking in tongues can also be of “profit to all” in a Christian assembly if it is interpreted to a common language of those in the gathering.
How is it then brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching , has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification, if anyone speaks in the tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret.1 Corinthians 14:26
When used this way, the gift of tongues should be used to empathize and support the spiritual message, and not because you feel strongly moved in your emotions. In this way, others besides the one speaking in tongues will be edified,
Speaking In Tongues As A Sign For Unbelievers
There is another reason the gift of tongues is given. “In the law it is written:’ With men of other tongues and other lips I will speak to this people, And yet, for all that, they will not hear Me, says the Lord. Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers” (1 Corinthians 14:21-22). In this way it could benefit those who attend a gathering but have not yet committed their life to Christ.
Who Receives This Spiritual Gift?
It is e pressed in the Bible that not all believers will receive this gift: “God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrators, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles! Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all interpret?” (1 Corinthians 12:28-30). We see here that only some will receive the gift to speak in tongues, just as some are only called to be prophets, etc,,,
As with all gifts of the Spirit, the speaking in tongues is not necessarily a sign of spiritual maturity. Many of the Corinthians spoke in tongues but Paul states that they were “babes of Christ “ (1 Corinthians 3:1). However, when used in an orderly and appropriate manner, it can be used to build up the individual and other members of the body of Christ.